Best Seasons for Birding in Botswana

© Maribou Storks
Botswana is less known for its birding potential, but with a range of landscapes, from desert to delta, it is coming into its own as an African birding area of distinction.Although Botswana does not have any endemic species of birds, it is nonetheless one of Africa's top birding areas because of its protection of a number of threatened and endangered species. There is however a great seasonal variation in the birding in Botswana.

When to Go Birding in Botswana

The best season in Botswana for number of species is during the summer months when the migrants have arrived but this is not to say that the winter months are a bad birding time. On the contrary, the dry winter months often see the gatherings of great numbers of birds around permanent water sources and where pools are drying to mud and the birds arrive to feed on the trapped fish and crustaceans.
Birding safaris to Botswana are usually planned for the summer months but for the casual birder, who also wants to experience the legendary wildlife of Botswana then the dry season, although not providing as many species, will nonetheless provide a birding experience of great drama.

Signalling Summer

The call of the Woodland Kingfisher is one of the most distinctive calls in northern Botswana, signalling that summer has well and truly arrived. The sound is beautiful when the birds first arrive but as the summer wears on the call can become somewhat overbearing, especially from a few meters away.The sudden arrival of many Wattled Cranes in an area of the Okavango Delta is often an indication that the floodwaters are not far off, as is the sudden gathering of Storks, Herons and Egrets. These birds gather to feed off the insects and other creatures the flood throws up as the water moves slowly over the dry ground.

Refuge for Rare Birds

Botswana, and in particular the Okavango Delta, is the greatest stronghold in Africa for the Wattled Cranes, boasting the continent's largest population as well as most of the world's Slaty Egrets.

Other important bird species of Botswana include White-backed Night Heron, Pel's Fishing-owl and the country is an important habitat for the African Skimmer. Botswana also has the most renowned Greater Flamingo and Lesser Flamingo [Phoeniconaias sp] breeding sites in southern Africa.

Planning a Birding Safari

A Botswana birding safari will depend on a number of factors, most importantly how focussed you are as a birder. Joining a specialised birding safari is the best way to go.

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